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29 investors file police reports against property investment firm

29 investors file police reports against property investment firm

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 23 Nov 2021
Author: Wong Shiying

The complainants are among about 170 investors alleging that they are owed money in investment projects that amounts to millions of dollars.

At least 29 police reports have been filed against property investment company PIP Holdings.

The complainants are among about 170 investors alleging that they are owed money in investment projects amounting to millions of dollars.

Among the 29, some transferred at least $10,000 each to PIP Holdings, run by Singaporean developer Jerome Tan Tor Teng, to build a theme park in Geraldton, a coastal city in Western Australia.

They were told they would get the principal sum back with interest accrued once the loans matured.

Other investors say they entered into a contract with PIP Holdings where they would buy an option to purchase for around $9,900 each, purportedly giving them the right to buy land for a fixed price in the areas the company claimed it was developing.

The places the company claimed to be developing included Geraldton in Australia and the Iskandar project in Johor.

PIP promised to build amenities such as casinos, hotels and schools, said investors.

Those who chose not to exercise the option to buy the land said the option fee was not returned to them, despite it being a clause in the contract.

Investors The Straits Times spoke to said they have been unable to reach the PIP director, Mr Tan, since February.

In a statement to ST, the police confirmed that reports have been made and they "are looking into the matter".

Training manager Jochen Siepmann, 54, transferred $10,000 to PIP Holdings in November 2014, and the contract he signed said he would get the sum back after three years, plus interest of 4 per cent a year.

He said he has yet to see any returns on his investment, or get his principal back.

Mr Siepmann, a Singaporean, said: "All I got were excuses for the past few years - cash flow issues, delays in construction because of Covid-19 and so on. After I got my lawyer to send Jerome a letter of demand in September this year, he went completely silent."

Attempts by ST to contact Mr Tan via phone and e-mail have been unsuccessful.

A search on the Ministry of Law's Insolvency Office website showed that Mr Tan was declared an undischarged bankrupt on Oct 28, on an application by OCBC Bank.

PIP Holdings has been listed on the Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) Investor Alert List since July 13.

This means PIP has a past record of being wrongly perceived by others as being licensed by the central bank.

Around 20 investors who were unhappy with the lack of progress of the projects started a WhatsApp group chat in November last year.

It has ballooned to more than 170 people today.

Some who exercised the option and paid money to buy land being developed by PIP Holdings forked out monthly instalments - some totalling more than $150,000.

But they say they have not seen any proof of amenities being developed.

Mr Samuel Chua is one of those who exercised the option to buy one lot of land measuring 2,542 sq m in Geraldton. He had intended to build a house for his family there.

The 37-year-old businessman said he has invested around $60,000 since 2015.

"We kept asking them (PIP Holdings) but they couldn't show us anything. If you've built something - roads, hotels or schools - you'll be happy to show your investors...

"I've stopped paying monthly instalments of $1,530 since November last year. But I know of many older people who intend to build homes to retire there and continue to pay money to PIP each month.

"There is a clause in the contract that says what they've put in so far will be forfeited if they stop."

Some investors are considering filing a civil suit against PIP Holdings and its director, but they are worried about the legal cost and are not sure if they will get their money back.

The investors ST spoke to said they met Mr Tan between 2014 and 2016 at one of his investment seminars.

They described him as a "remarkable salesman" and a "talented speaker". After the talks, Mr Tan encouraged them to invest in PIP's ventures.

An investor who wanted to be known only as Mr Chia said he has given PIP more than $100,000.

He told ST: "The way he sold himself was very convincing. He told us how he turned his life around from bankrupt to multi-millionaire property guru within seven years."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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